Contract extension for Cratloe Post Office

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy says he has received confirmation from An Post that Cratloe Post Office is to remain open for at least another 18 months.

Senator Mulcahy said the contract for the operation of the Post Office, which was due to end this month, has been extended until September 2016.

The Shannon-based Senator said An Post's decision is a credit to the work of the local community and the Cratloe Post Office Action Group which have "campaigned vigorously" against the closure during recent months."

He described the extension of the Post Office contract as "a victory for community action."

"I attended a number of meetings in Cratloe and at the GPO in Dublin at which the people of Cratloe outlined the many reasons why the Post Office should remain open and how its closure would potentially impact the village and surrounding areas. This community approach worked and has served to convince An Post that its plan to not renew the Post Office operating contract was premature," said Senator Mulcahy.

"Specific credit must go to Josefa McGelligott of the Cratloe Post Office Action Group who took a stand on this issue and helped to reverse a decision I am convinced would have negatively impacted the lives of local people. An Post's decision is a victory for them and their community. I also wish to acknowledge Aonghus O'Lafferty of An Post for giving the local community the opportunity to raise their concerns, as well as Cathaoirleach John Crowe, Cllr. PJ Ryan, other local Elected Members and my Oireachtas colleagues for their support for retaining this vital community service," added Senator Mulcahy

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Fleadh decision “thoroughly deserved but long overdue” - Mulcahy

Clare Senator Tony Mulcahy says the naming of Ennis as the host venue for the 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the result of an "unprecedented countywide effort" by Clare's cultural organisations to secure the prestigious event.

Senator Mulcahy said the decision of the Ardchomhairle of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann to select Ennis as the host location is "thoroughly deserved but long overdue."

"It has been almost four decades since Clare hosted this event which is a shame considering the County is very much the spiritual home of Irish traditional music and song. The perseverance of the local Fleadh Working Group and cultural organisations throughout the County has been instrumental in delivering this huge announcement,” said Senator Mulcahy.

“Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann will bring up to 350,000 people to Ennis, more than 10,0000 of whom will be musicians. The economic and cultural benefits are significant not only for Clare but the entire Mid West with the event expected to generate €40 million for the Region.  The Fleadh also provides a platform for the people of Clare to show the rest of Ireland and the world of their capacity to host large scale cultural events, while at the same time demonstrate the scale of cultural activity ongoing in the county,” added Senator Mulcahy.

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Clare records 21% drop in unemployment levels since early 2012
County Clare has recorded a 21% drop in unemployment levels during the past three years with more than two thousand people returning to work, according to Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy.
Senator Mulcahy was responding to latest CSO figures showing that unemployment nationally has fallen for 31 months in a row since the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs was launched in early 2012.
“Another drop in the Live Register in January emphasises that the economy is in recovery and that more people are entering the jobs market. I am particularly encouraged that the Live Register here in Clare has dropped by 20.74%, down from 10,508 to 8,329,” said Senator Mulcahy.
“This progress has been mirrored throughout the country. The national unemployment rate has fallen from 15.2% in 2012 to 10.5% now. There is however, more work to be done and I expect to see a further drop in these figures in the coming months.
“There have been some encouraging jobs announcements here in Clare in recent months. I want to ensure that we are able to compete with Dublin and Cork in attracting further foreign direct investment to the county. According to the IDA, 37% of investments in 2014 were made outside the main centres and the Government will work to continue this trend.
“Unemployment is falling steadily across the country, but very significantly we are now seeing a drop in rural areas as CSO figures show that the live register dropped in all eight regions of the country over the course of 2014. This year there will be an increased focus on job creation outside of the main urban centres as the Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton is preparing to launch a pilot programme of the Regional Enterprise Strategy. This strategy will specifically address growing economies in rural areas,” added Senator Mulcahy

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€9M Leader fund for Clare
Fine Gael Senator for Clare, Tony Mulcahy has welcomed a funding package of almost 9 million euro for the LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme in County Clare.
Senator Mulcahy described the allocation of €8,920,224 to County Clare as of "huge significance to community led projects" in Clare.
“The LEADER programme is all about community led projects; it is focused on making the recovery local. Once approval for the programme has been given by the European Commission, Local Action Groups of Clare will be invited to submit ideas for how funding should be spent. These groups will be set up in accordance with the EU Regulations and will consist of representatives across public and private socio-economic interests," he said.
“I know in Clare there are any number of projects where funding is needed and will be of huge benefit. Due to the new Local Government Reform Act 2014, this money will be controlled at a local level and therefore the allocation of resources will be much more targeted, cost effective and efficient. Streamlining operations at a local level should maximise the funding available to support important projects and the local communities in Clare," added Senator Mulcahy.

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A great article in today's Clare Champion highlighting the need for stronger legal protection for victims of domestic violence:
Law Favours Dogs over People
By Dan Danaher
ANIMALS enjoy more protection under the law than adult victims of domestic violence in Ireland, a prominent Clare politician has claimed.
Senator Tony Mulcahy, has called on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to introduce more stringent penalties against perpetrators of this crime.
The Fine Gael Senator made the plea noting that someone who inflicts cruelty on a dog can be fined up to €250,000, or face up to five years imprisonment, while there is far less protection for someone over the age of 18, either male or female, who is a victim of domestic violence.
A person convicted in the district court of causing harm can receive a maximum fine of €1,500 or up to 12 months in prison.
“If we can introduce law to protect animals, we should be able to protect a man or woman that is being brutalised in their own home,” he said.
“Friends of mine in the gardaí pointed me to the 2002 Children’s Welfare Act and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. They outlined that the animal welfare legislation provides for penalties, including powers of detention, imprisonment and fines.
“If I give a dog a kick up the backside, I can be detained for seven days, with a fine of up to €250,000 or five years imprisonment but there is little or no provision to protect someone over the age of 18, either male or female.
“We already have the powers in the acts. I plead with the minister to ensure that we introduce the legislation this year,” he said.
While the 2002 Children’s Act protects children under the age of 18 from domestic abuse, Senator Mulcahy insists existing laws do not offer enough protection for adults from this abuse.
Acknowledging that it is impossible to stop domestic violence, he stressed increased penalties would help reduce the incidence of this crime. He said domestic violence goes beyond a man and a woman, to include grandparents, uncles and aunts and any form of violence in the home.
While Clare Haven manager Denise Dunne has welcomed Minister Fitzgerald’s commitment to introduce the Istanbul Convention later this year, she called on the Government to reverse the cutbacks that have seen a €98,000 slash in their funding since 2009.
Ms Dunne said Clare Haven has been forced to concentrate on providing its core emergency services for victims of domestic violence and has had to abandon several activities, such as training with community groups and information sessions in schools.
She said it is vital for the Government to properly fund all support organisations, such as the Safe Ireland Network, to ensure its new laws can be implemented.
Highlighting the need for a new integrated approach, she called for the establishment of a Cabinet sub-committee to deal with domestic and sexual violence to co-ordinate the implementation of new laws between the Department of Justice, Environment and Tusla, the new family and children’s agency.
She said, last year, the refuge accommodated 78 families and 157 children. However, it was unable to cater for another 128 families due to the lack of capacity, the longer length of stay for victims of domestic abuse and the lack of available accommodation in the private rental sector.
The service also provided 778 support visits to victims who required assistance from a support worker to deal with a wide variety of issues, such as processing requests for legal orders.
...
Addressing a Seanad debate on Tuesday, Senator Mulcahy said he was speaking on behalf of the many thousands of victims and victims-to-be who are out there and looking for a permanent solution in this problem.
In addition to introducing appropriate penalties, fines and periods of detention, he said there is a need for proper recording of the crime to ensure evidence is collated in a proper fashion.
As a member of the Justice Committee, Senator Mulcahy said he has been told by domestic violence campaigners that he has raised the bar quite considerably by campaigning for reforms in this area.
He requested the minister to implement the EU victims’ directive, ratify the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence and implement the report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality on domestic violence.
Senator Mulcahy also wants to replicate in this jurisdiction the DASH risk identification and assessment model, which operates in Northern Ireland.
Having sent a copy of this system of recording all crimes of sexual or domestic violence to the minister and new Garda Commissioner, Noirín O’Sullivan, he stressed this is a far more effective method compared to using an “old black notebook” or putting details on the Garda PULSE system.
“The perpetrator of domestic violence is the person, not the victim, who should be looking for the bed and breakfast. The victims and families should be left in the family home,” he said.
After the incident, he said an order should be put in place to remove the perpetrator for whatever term is needed.
Minister Fitzgerald said the Government is committed to the introduction of consolidated and reformed domestic violence legislation to address all aspects of domestic violence, threatened violence and intimidation in a way that provides protection to victims.
She said it is important to have one consolidated piece of legislation, rather than the various Acts introduced in the past.
“The Garda Commissioner has announced plans to develop a system of risk assessment for victims of domestic violence who come to the attention of the gardaí. The Garda Commissioner has announced a series of initiatives on the reorganisation of how child protection and sexual and domestic violence are dealt with by the gardaí.
“That will also help to deal more effectively with reports of domestic violence and domestic abuse, as well as the decision to allocate two officers in every division with responsibility for victims. That is an extremely good initiative,” she said.

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Mulcahy confident extended Shannon guarantees can be secured

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy says he believes a longer term guarantee can be secured from IAG in relation to Shannon Airport's Heathrow slots and service levels along with "solid commitments" in relation to Aer Lingus' transatlantic services.

The Shannon-based Senator last week threatened to resign the party whip if the Government sells its 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus to IAG on the basis of a 5-year Heathrow slot guarantee and in the absence of any commitment to future transatlantic services at the Clare airport.

"I made my position clear to Transport Minister Paschal Donoghue and at Wednesday night's Parliamentary Party meeting and I believe the Government is committed to rebuking any approach for its 25.1% shareholding in the airline unless certain commitments are introduced as part of IAG's offer. This includes IAG guaranteeing Shannon Airport's Heathrow slots for a period greater than the five years offered and a defined commitment in relation to transatlantic services. Any offer from IAG that falls short of this would be simply unpalatable to me and for many senior Government colleagues," said Senator Mulcahy

Senator Mulcahy expressed his disappointment with some Fine Gael TD's who had indicated that they would support IAG's bid in its current format, adding that they had "disregarded the concerns of the people of the West of Ireland".

"Quality connectivity to and from Shannon Airport is extremely important for ensuring balanced regional development and attracting investment into the west of the country. The already proposed 5-year guarantee should be increased to give greater investor confidence while a long term commitment should be extended to transatlantic services," he added.

"If Willie Walsh is as committed to growing business out of Shannon as he told me he was at a recent Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting, then delivering such guarantees as part of IAG's bid for Aer Lingus should not be a problem. The Government's 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus gives it significant bargaining power. Now is the time to use it which I am confident the Government will," said Senator Mulcahy.

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Fine Gael Senator to resign whip if Government sells Aer Lingus share to IAG

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy has said he will resign the party whip if the Government sells its 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus to IAG.

Senator Mulcahy was speaking following today's appearance by IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh at the Oireachtas Transport Committee.

During the meeting, Mr. Walsh responded to a question from Senator Mulcahy stating he could not guarantee the future retention of Aer Lingus' transatlantic services to and from Shannon Airport.

"While Mr. Walsh confirmed to me IAG is in a position to guarantee Shannon Airport's Heathrow slots for a period of 5 years but that he could not guarantee the future retention of transatlantic services from the County Clare airport," said Senator Mulcahy.

"I cannot support any proposed sale of Aer Lingus to IAG as the risks are far too great for Shannon Airport, and the people of Clare and the West of Ireland. Should the Government sell its shares to IAG I will resign the party whip and Fine Gael will no longer be able to rely on my vote," concluded Senator Mulcahy.

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Fund announced for introduction of new speed limits

Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy has said the Government's announcement of a €2m Speed Limits Review fund for local authorities should provide the impetus for Clare County Council to consider introducing new speed limits in housing estates and residential areas.

Senator Mulcahy said he welcomed the news that Clare County Council has already engaged the general public regarding the proposed introduction of new measures to reduce vehicle speeds in residential areas.

He stated: "Road Safety in built up areas and particularly areas where children are present is extremely important. I see the increased use of a 30km/h speed limit in residential areas as a measure that will help to keep pedestrians, cyclists and children at play safe."

"I am glad that the Council recently consulted the public to identify what estates should be included. It is important that the Council now act on the recommendations received and avail of the funding being made available by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This funding will be allocated to local authorities as they come forward with their proposals to implement the lower speed limit and introduce new measures," said Senator Mulcahy.

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Senator Mulcahy's Speech on Energy Production



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Electric Ireland urged to reduce energy prices
Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Tony Mulcahy has called on the Electric Ireland to replicate the decision of Bord Gais Energy to reduce its prices for gas and electricity.
Bord Gais Energy's move comes a week after Senator Mulcahy called on the Regulator and energy companies to explain why electricity bills had not been reduced in light of continued significant falls in gas and oil prices.
"I welcome Bord Gais Energy's decision to reduce its electricity prices by 3.5% for gas and 2.5% for electricity. The onus is now on Electric Ireland to follow suit," said Senator Mulcahy
"Any reduction in electricity or gas bills would provide a tremendous boost the economy and would help reduce overheads for households and businesses. Far too often we see companies using any hike in gas and oil prices as an excuse to raise prices and therefore, it is only right that the pressure be put on them to reduce bills are when such prices drop," he added.
Senator Mulcahy said he has already raised the issue in the Senate with Minister Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, TD., who is scheduled to meet the chief executives of energy companies next week to outline whether wholesale energy price reductions are being adequately reflected in household bills.

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Tony Mulcahy

Tony Mulcahy

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